Sunday, January 12, 2014

Get Your Creativity Flowing

“But I’m not creative.”

Does that sound like something you’d tell yourself? Well, that’s a bunch of bunk! Everybody has a creative side, some people are just better at tapping into it than others.

I’ll take my dad as an example. He loved logic, and the phrase “Let’s think logically about this” can still make my eyes roll. He was a genius when it came to writing computer programs. At first glance, that’s pure logic, right?

Yes and no. It is true that programming involves certain rules you have to follow and each program is a series of logical steps. But how to combine those logical steps in a new way to write a brand new program, now that can take some creativity. Especially when a client tells you they want it customized to their business needs.

Another counter-intuitive example is scientists. Sciences also have set rules you have to follow: certain chemicals will react in predictable ways when combined; the laws of physics cannot be changed, and so on. Yet there are innovations in scientific fields all the time, and that is because of scientists who tap into their creative side to solve problems.

The good news is that everyone can increase their ability to access that part of themselves. Both of the examples above use one technique – they both have to do something new within the limitation of specific unchangeable rules or limitations. Dr. Seuss used that technique, too, when he was bet that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 words. Anyone who has read Green Eggs and Ham has seen the proof that he succeeded.

Another way to stimulate your creative side is to think like a child. If you give a child an apple but they’d never had an apple before, they’re not going to eat it immediately. They’ll hold it, examine it, maybe even roll it around or try to bounce it. Kids are also good at bending the rules and pushing the limits. So next time you’re trying to solve a problem, think like a kid for a few minutes.

Photography and art teach you to change your perspective. Get up high and look down on an object. Get down low and look up. Step a few feet to one side and look at the scene again. Even if you’re not creating a picture, try doing that occasionally Even if it is something as simple as stopping and looking up at a building you pass every day; take a few moments to look at things differently. Use all your senses. How would you describe this item to a blind person? How do you express the sound of instrument to a deaf person? What does it feel like? What do you smell?

There are numerous other tips and tricks you can use. You just have to be willing to try. And you have to be willing to have some attempts not quite reach what you were aiming for. As writers, we face that every day. The first draft is never perfect, but if we keep striving for perfection in a scene or paragraph, we’d never move on to the next one. Keep experimenting!

Your turn. Do you have a favorite trick to share that stimulates your creativity?